Having grown up in Seattle, it was a bit of a culture shock when Stephanie Clifford, now a New York Times reporter, went to school on the East Coast in the 1990s. "In Seattle there's no ‘old money,' really, but when I went to boarding school I was kind of fascinated to find out that it existed and was still relevant." That idea combined with the economic boom in 2005 and 2006, replete with debutante balls and an environment where recent college graduates working on Wall Street were buying Adirondack homes, inspired her to write Everybody Rise (St. Martin's Press, Aug.), about one Evelyn Beegan, who strives to become part of Manhattan's rarefied, upper-class world. Clifford says, "I was interested in getting inside of the head of somebody who falls in love with this way of life and why it's so important to her to fit in."

She started writing the book about 10 years ago, but once she'd been working at the New York Times for a couple of years—she was hired there in 2008—her schedule, no surprise, interfered with the novel's progress. Clifford notes, "I realized that in order to get this thing up and finished, I had to be much more structured about it. So I got up at six every morning and wrote from six to eight, and then on weekends I'd write for a little bit longer. My deal with myself was that I had to just get up and sit there and whatever came out was fine."

Being a reporter, Clifford enjoys the freedom of writing fiction. "Part of the fun for me is that in my day job, I have to stick to the facts and quote people correctly. It was fun to be freaky with fiction and watch as the characters take off and make their own decisions. As Evelyn kept making less sensible decisions, I kept saying, ‘Evelyn, don't do it,' but by then she was a full-force character and just took off on her own."

Today, you can catch up with Clifford at the AAP Adult Librarians' Author Lunch, in Room 1E15–16, noon–1:30 p.m., after which she will be signing galleys. She will also be participating in the Hot Fall Fiction panel tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the Downtown Stage. 

This article appeared in the May 28, 2015 edition of PW BEA Show Daily.